I have always found it hard to tell people NO. Such a simple word but it has the power to make you free or keep you tied down. Sadly, I didn’t learn its importance until I got into the University.
My university life came with a pipe of endless responsibilities. In a short time, I found myself thrust into volunteer work, church work and school work. Everything that came up had my attention because I was eager to prove myself.
There was also the fact that I didn’t want to be seen as rude or to hurt anybody’s feelings. In a sense, activities made me feel needed. There was this warmth that filled me up when I accomplished tasks. Those days I would tell myself “Omo, without you, so and so would not have happened.”It was a heady feeling but then I didn’t know that it was also a self destructive one.
When I began to notice something was wrong was during the final week to exams. I had two dinners to go to coupled with revision classes and to help out a friend in setting up a youth friendly library for church. While I was trying not to hurt anyone, I ended up being the person shouldering everyone’s burden with little time for myself.
Eventually I crashed and became sick. It was a harsh wake up call for me. Especially because all the activities that I signed up for and was assigned to do went on despite my “absence” while I was huddled up in the bed, coughing up phlegm and drinking hot tea.
Since then, it’s been easier for me to put myself first. Saying NO is liberating. Saying NO is selfcare. And it’s okay. We should normalise hearing and saying no, even if it’s to people we care about. Remember, no one is really indispensable. Prioritise. Choose yourself. And live a life that is balanced between work and rest.